“the end goal of feminist revolution must be… not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself.”
—Shulamith Firestone,In Praise of Being Daring (And Wrong) - In These Times
I very strongly disagree. We can’t erase the sex distinction, it is biology and is necessary for the reproduction of the species. What we need to get rid of, however, is gender. There is a very big difference.
Also, there will always be biological differences between men and women, and these cannot simply be erased or ignored— the only issue that should be wiped out is the assumption of inferiority or superiority based on these differences. We need to stop valuing the male while denigrating the female.
Firestone was actually talking about the social aspects, i.e. gender. She was also in favour of artificial reproduction to replace compulsory childbirth. The full quote is:
So that just as to assure elimination of economic classes requires the revolt of the underclass (the proletariat) and, in a temporary dictatorship, their seizure of the means of production, so to assure the elimination of sexual classes requires the revolt of the underclass (women) and the seizure of control of reproduction: not only the full restoration to women of ownership of their own bodies, but also their (temporary) seizure of control of human fertility—the new population biology as well as all the social institutions of child-bearing and child-rearing. And just as the end goal of socialist revolution was not only the elimination of the economic class privilege but of the economic class distinction itself, so the end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally. (a reversion to an unobstructed pansexuality—Freud’s ‘polymorphous perversity’—would probably supersede hetero/homo/bi-sexuality.) The reproduction of the species by one sex for the benefit of both would be replaced by (at least the option of) artificial reproduction: children would be born to both sexes equally, or independently of either, however one choosese to look at it; the dependence of the child on the mother (and vice versa) would give way to a greatly shortened dependence on a small group of others in general, and any remaining inferiority to adults in physical strength would be compensated for culturally. The division of labour would be ended by the elimination of labour altogether (through cybernetics). The tyranny of the biological family would be broken.
I have nothing to add to any of the points made above, but just wanted to say I knew the article cited was going to annoy me as soon as I saw “by Sady Doyle.” What exactly is so “wild” about the theory of compulsory heterosexuality and how that serves patriarchy? Why describe that, and other critiques and ideas from radical feminists in such a patronizing way? And referring to the reaction radical feminists had to BDSM as “brutal treatment” is a little dramatic, no? It’s not like people who get off on hurting others, especially men, are being oppressed for it. There’s some other shit, including of course, “they were mean to the trans “women” bad feminists, bad!” and the typical reduction of radfem arguments on the trans subject. I really wish liberal feminists would stop writing about radical feminists, they’re usually unfair and insulting to these women in their attempt to make sure everyone know they don’t associate themselves with anything that might be legitimately threatening to patriachy.